How often should I get my carpets cleaned?
How can I keep them cleaner for longer?
These two age-old questions are something that professional carpet cleaners get asked all the time. While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the first question of how often to get them cleaned, there are a number of golden rules to follow to make your carpets stay cleaner for longer, getting the most value for money out of the clean and extending the life of your home’s carpet.
Take Shoes Off At The Door
Did you know that scientists have studied dirty carpet to find out what type of soiling gets trapped in the carpet? One famous landmark study entitled Carpet Dirt Research by C. W. Studer found that insoluble, dry particulate matter (such as common dirt) made up 79% of all soiling found in the carpet! This type of soiling is almost always introduced into the home from outside the home by tracking it in on shoes. The easiest, simplest, cheapest and most efficient way to keep your carpets cleaner for longer is to remove shoes when entering the home and put on some comfortable slippers. In many Asian cultures such as in South Korea there is even a depressed area built into the entrance to the home which is the only area anyone is allowed to step into the home with outdoor shoes, and everyone (even guests, delivery people, trade-persons!) take their shoes off at this area and swap them for indoor slippers. While such a simple thing it is often overlooked even though statistically it will reduce the dirt tracked into the home by 79 %!
Vacuum Early, Vacuum Often
Waiting to vacuum until the carpet is covered in dust and another dry particulate matter is a sure-fire way to reduce the longevity of your carpet clean. Instead, plan to vacuum on a regular schedule; once a week for couples or twice a week for homes with pets and small children. A regular carpet vacuuming schedule removes dry particulate and dirt before it can get lodged into or stuck onto the carpet, preventing the build-up of soiling before it occurs! If you’d like to improve the indoor air quality within the home and support the health of family members with asthma, allergies and breathing difficulties, use a vacuum cleaner equipped with High-Efficiency Particulate Arresting (HEPA) filters. These vacuum cleaners have special filters that trap microscopic dust particles that regular vacuums recirculate into the air. For the best-in-class of vacuum cleaners use a HEPA vacuum with a powerful motorised brush head; when having your carpets professionally cleaned, ensure that the technician is vacuuming with one of these vacuums prior to cleaning – many of the budget carpet cleaners will skip this important step.
Trap Soils With Quality Entrance Mats
One excellent way to capture soils before they enter your home is with quality entrance mats both outside and inside the door. The best quality mats will have a bit of carpet pile on them to trap dirt and be made out of polypropylene, nylon or acrylic to make them very easy to clean. Quality mats will do a great job of trapping dirt and dry particulate matter from the shoes of anyone entering your home. Mat maintenance is essential as once the mats become heavily soiled they’ll stop working as they can’t hold any more soiling; vacuum them regularly and have them professionally cleaned by the technician when they come and clean your carpets.
Clean Outside Walkways, Hard Surface Areas
Something often overlooking in home maintenance is outdoor hard surface cleaning. If the entrance-way leading up to your home is heavily soiled anyone walking to your home will track in dirt from the exterior inside, which will end up on your carpets! During winter or wet weather outdoor areas will get particularly dirty, due to a mixture of water from rain and dirt building up on the exterior hard surface walkways. On some surfaces particularly if they are under partial shade, you can stay on top of this by vacuuming the area directly outside the door at the same time as doing the carpets and mopping it regularly. After winter is over consider cleaning the exterior hard surface walkways using a hard surface outdoor pressure cleaner or have a hard surface professional come and do it. Maintaining the cleanliness of the hard surface walkways leading into your home will help keep not just your carpets, but everything else inside the home cleaner for longer.
Quickly Spot Clean Spills On Carpet
Leaving most spills or stains alone gives them dwell time to absorb into the carpet and will decrease the chance of being able to get a perfect result, even with professional cleaning. If you notice a spill or stain, grab a micro-fibre cloth or even a kitchen paper towel and try to absorb as much liquid as possible. After that spray and wipe with a professional “No-Rinse” carpet spotter which won’t leave behind any sticky chemical residue; beware of cheap carpet spotters that leave behind sticky chemical residues and can cause the area to re-soil quickly by having dirt from people’s stick to it. Consider using the Bissell Cordless Stain Eraser Carpet Cleaner which we’ve reviewed previously. Be careful with any spot cleaners marked as “Oxy”; these contain hydrogen peroxide which is used in a concentrated form over a particular spot, can make the area a few shades lighter than the rest of the carpet, resulting in permanent discolouration.
Clean Windows, Blinds, Flyscreens & Vents
Another major source of dry particulate entering the home is through windows, flyscreens and vents. These surfaces, especially flyscreens and blinds, serve to trap dust as it enters your home. If they are allowed to become heavily soiled there is no more room for them to capture more dirt and so it goes straight into the home! Add vacuuming & cleaning fly screens on doors and windows to your regular cleaning schedule, wipe blinds now, spray and wipe vents and vacuum or replace air-conditioner filters when they become soiled. Consider also limiting the number of time windows and doors are kept open; an hour a day should be more than enough to air out the home however leaving them open all day creates a highway for the dust to enter the home, resulting in more cleaning work for you!
Groom Pets, Wipe Paws
Pets which spend time outside the home than are allowed inside are another major source of indoor carpet soiling. Especially in winter, prevent pets from tracking in exterior dirt by drying their coats and wiping down the feet of pets using a cotton towel before they are allowed to re-enter the home. Regular grooming and brushing them down outside is also an excellent way to prevent pets from shedding pet hair all over your precious carpet, rugs and sofas.
Change Room Layout, Get Creative
Repeated foot traffic over the same area of carpet over and over again can wear it more quickly, especially with synthetic carpets, some of which have poor resilience meaning the carpet pile can go flat in just a few years. Concentrated foot traffic also tends to funnel and build-up dirt over the same area, causing the carpet to become soiled faster than it normally would. You can buy furniture sliders from hardware stores that go under the legs of furniture, allowing even large furniture such as lounge sofas to effortlessly slide across the carpet. Get creative and re-arrange larger rooms once a year to spread the foot traffic over different sections of the carpet. Rotating area rugs and hall-runners every year will also help to make your rugs last longer as well.
Beware Discount Carpet Cleaners
Carpet cleaning is a service, not a product, meaning the quality will vary drastically. Budget or discount carpet cleaners provide a cut-price service by cutting steps out of the cleaning process and using cheaper chemicals. Often these cheaper chemicals will leave sticky chemical residues behind on the carpet, causing faster re-soiling as future dirt from shoes and feet sticks to these sticky residues, resulting in the dirt not being removed through vacuuming as now the dirt is stuck to the carpet pile! As always “buyer beware”; if it looks too good to be true it probably is, if you are paying 50% of the price, expect to only get 50% of the clean. Carpet Cleaning Adelaide recommends finding a carpet cleaning professional using “No-Rinse” products which leave behind no sticky chemical residues and employ the latest polymerisation technology which applies a non-stick polymer to the carpet fibre helping deflect soils, keeping the carpet cleaner for longer by improving your vacuuming efficiency.
Whilst we are on the topic of carpets, why not pop over to Futures blog to get great advice on choosing the right type of rug for your flooring type.